When should I seek help for my child or teenager?

Melissa ReeBlog, Children, Clinic Updates, Psychological treatment approaches

Seeing a psychologist can be a proactive step in enhancing long term well-being. 

However, it can feel like a big decision to seek psychological support for your child or teenager. How do you know if your child’s behaviours or emotions will pass with time, are just part of “growing up”, or something that needs more specialised help?

As a starting point, it can be helpful to talk with friends and family to get a sense of whether others are having similar difficulties, and depending on the concern, talk with your child’s teacher to see if they have noticed anything different in your child’s behaviour or school performance. 

As a guide, a psychologist may be able to help when a child’s difficulties are:

  • Getting worse, not better over time
  • Interfering in their ability to engage in age-appropriate activities
  • Causing significant emotional distress over time
  • Impacting over time on family, school or peer relationships
  • A significant change from their usual level of functioning
  • Not responding to typical sources of support, encouragement or limit-setting

Psychological therapy encourages kids, teens, and parents to self-reflect, talk and learn how to best respond to their challenges. Therapy will generally involve parents being active in the treatment and this will especially be the case with younger children. It can improve coping and communication, develop resilience and help kids to feel better about themselves. It can also be useful to work on issues before they become too entrenched. Making an appointment to see a psychologist also models that if there is a problem, it’s helpful to address it and look for solutions, rather than avoid; that you “have a village around you” and resources to draw on as you need to. 

First Steps:
Speak to your child openly and let them know that you think it would be helpful to get some outside support to help you and them the difficulties you’ve been noticing. Explain that clinical psychologists are highly trained professionals who have a lots experience working with kids with all kinds of concerns.  to improve the situation. Let them know that you will find a therapist that is knowledgeable, and that you are confident this will help. It’s important that children also know that the information that you give your psychologist will be kept confidential and explain what that means. If you or your child prefers, you can meet with the psychologist separately first to get to know them and their approach. All Jeffery and Ree psychologists are highly trained to use evidence-based approaches to work with issues that may be causing children and families to feel “stuck”.

The Initital appointment:
We will begin with booking an assessment appointment for you and your child. This is an opportunity for you and your child to meet your therapist, get to know them and give a detailed history of the problem(s) you are concerned about. They will ask you a range of questions about your area of concern and work hard to understand factors which will be important in therapy. At the end of the appointment, your therapist will give you some initial feedback about what could be helpful for treatment, and develop treatment goals with you to ensure that the sessions are meeting your needs. A thorough assessment really helps to get treatment off to a good start. 

Moving forwards:
It is possible that your clinical psychologist may use drawing, games or play to build a strong relationship and aid conversations with your child. You and/or your child will often be asked to think about or summarise the session at home or to try out some new strategies for learning and coping between sessions. It’s important that we make the therapy active and meaningful between sessions. We will review therapy progress with you regularly and encourage children and parents to provide honest feedback along the way.

If you would like to make an appointment with a psychologist from our team, you can look through our therapists and book straightaway on the website, or phone our friendly admin team who would be happy to assist you in finding the most suitable psychologist for your child or teenager.

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